Following the launch of the Vivo X60 Pro (Review) flagship in Singapore last month, Vivo returns to the local smartphone scene with the brand new Vivo V21 5G that’s targeted towards the highly competitive middle-range market.
Like any other V series smartphones, the new Vivo V21 5G continues to be marketed as a camera-centric smartphone aimed to elevate photography experience of an amateur mobile photographer with it’s versatile camera system and advanced computational photography.
At S$599 (US$446), the Vivo V21 5G seems well-positioned to take on the likes of other more expensive mid-ranger phones in the market like the OPPO Reno5 5G and Samsung Galaxy A52 5G to name a few.
So, how does the Vivo V21 5G actually performs in this crowded segment, we’ll soon find out in this review!
Design & Display
When it comes to smartphone designs, Vivo and OPPO are two of the smartphone brands that never fail to impress me with their ultra-sleek designs that are really thin and light.
This is once again evidenced in the new Vivo V21 5G which dons a super slim chassis measuring just 7.39mm that’s in fact thinner than Vivo’s own X60 Pro flagship, and pretty much any other smartphones in the market.
Similarly, Vivo had also done an excellent job in minimizing the size of it’s camera bump in terms of both thickness and dimension. The design of the camera module on the whole looks rather similar with what we saw on the Vivo X60 series smartphones, save the Zeiss branding.
It’s slim body, along with it’s featherlight weight of 177 grams makes the phone a joy to hold whether vertically, or horizontally when streaming videos or gaming. Most importantly, the phone also feels premium on hand thanks to it’s robust build and AG matte glass (back).
In the local market, the Vivo V21 5G is offered in two different colorways namely Dusk Blue and Sunset Dazzle. For the Sunset Dazzle variant that we received for review, it’s dressed in an eye-catching iridescent colorway which changes color accordingly to the angle of incident lights.
Coming to the frontside of the phone, we will be greeted by a 6.44” AMOLED display which features a “waterdrop” notch around the forehead area to accommodate it’s selfie camera.
Colors appear vibrant and punchy on the front display thanks to the adoption of an AMOLED panel. Details also looks sharp on the front display which offers a FHD+ screen resolution, as well as a fast 90Hz refresh rate that makes scrolling and animations feel buttery-smooth.
On top of that, it’s front display also features some other high-end specs including HDR10+ support as well as a wide 6,000,000: 1 contrast ratio that promises an immersive and realistic graphical experience for it’s users. These are actually features that we normally see only among more expensive flagship models.
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Most importantly, the front display can also get really bright with a peak brightness of up to 800 nits. This ensures the screen remain legible even under harsh sunlight, and is hence doubly important for those who enjoy doing outdoor photography.
Finally, there’s also a responsive in-display fingerprint sensor for biometric authentication. Majority of the time, the sensor is able to register fingerprints with great accuracy and respectable speed.
The Vivo V21 5G is the first Vivo smartphone in the global market to be powered by an octa-core MediaTek Dimensity 800U chipset, fabricated under an advanced 7nm process-technology.
In terms of performance, the Dimensity 800U chipset naturally outperforms the Snapdragon 720G chipset that was used in last year’s Vivo V20 model. This is evidenced by it’s benchmarking scores across various benchmarking platforms like AnTuTu 8 and Geekbench 5.
During day-to-day usage, the Vivo V21 5G feels silky smooth from app launching all the way to multi-tasking. Even with more resource intensive tasks like video editing and gaming (under default game settings), I hardly encounters any stuttering or “lagginess”.
In the memory department, the Vivo V21 5G is equipped with a standard 8GB RAM and 128GB storage combo which is likely to be sufficient for majority of the users.
Just in case 128 gigs worth of storage isn’t enough for your photos or games, it’s storage capacity can still be expanded via a microSD card, so you can save yourself the hassle of uploading files to cloud storage, which can be real pain at times.
To cater to your photography needs, the Vivo V21 5G puts forward a highly reliable triple-cam system that include a 64 megapixels (f/1.79 aperture) main camera, 8 megapixels (f/2.2 aperture) ultra-wide lens, as well as a 2 megapixels (f/2.4 aperture) macro camera.
Photos shot during daylight are expectedly great, with good exposure and natural-looking color profile that doesn’t appears overly saturated. Details are also well-retained in the photos, with digital noise kept to the bay as well.
Under low-light environment, the Vivo V21 5G continues to impress with flattering photos that possess wide dynamic range and aplenty details. In extremely dark environment, the Vivo V21 5G does have a really capable night mode which does a fine job in brightening up the scene to improve sharpness and discover shadow details.
Just like any other smartphones, the basic requirement for taking a proper shot with night mode is to hold the phone steadily for several seconds which of course isn’t an easy feat at all. But thankfully the main camera of the Vivo V21 5G does have OIS stabilization to help compensate the shakiness of my hand, making it much easier for me to take a better night shot.
To help with architecture or landscape photography, the 8 megapixels ultra-wide lens on the Vivo V21 5G does a pretty decent job too. Level of details are good and edge distortions are fairly well handled too.
Despite the lack of dedicated telephoto or periscope lens, the Vivo V21 5G is still able to zoom up to 10x digitally, via it’s main camera. Anywhere between the 2x to 4x zoom factor, you do get usable photos with decent dynamic range and adequate details even under poorer lighting.
And for super close up photos, you can count on the Vivo V21 5G’s macro camera that gives you decent amount of details despite being a mere 2 megapixels sensor. Quality of photos taken by the macro camera are obviously incomparable to those shot using it’s main or ultra-wide units, but are still nice to have and may could come in handy at time.
Last but not the least, the Vivo V21 5G also has an incredible 44 megapixels selfie camera which actually comes with OIS stabilization too. While OIS stabilization is common among rear cameras of premium smartphone models, but it’s certainly not a typical feature which you would expect to see in a selfie camera.
Taking things further, the Vivo V21 5G also features a pair of LED flash along the top bezels further enhance low-light performance of it’s selfie camera – even though it’s highly capable night mode is suffice most of the time, especially when there’s OIS stabilization in store.
Unsurprisingly, this impressive setup pans out well in real life across all lighting conditions, with wide enough dynamic range and ample details thanks to the use of a high-res imaging sensor. No doubt, the Vivo V21 5G is a punch above it’s own weight in this aspect.
Battery & Charging
At the helm, the Vivo V21 5G draws power from a respectable 4,000mAh battery which is good enough to provide you with a day’s worth of battery life under normal usage, and occasionally up to 1.5 days with the help of power saving features.
Of course, the phone could have been equipped with larger battery capacity, but that would probably comes at the expense of it’s sleek chassis – which I believe most of us would prefer over an additional one or two hours of usage.
To provide a faster charging time, the Vivo V21 5G also comes with 33W flash charging onboard that’s capable of filling up a flat battery in slightly more than an hour. It’s in fact the same charging technology which is also used in the higher-end Vivo X60 Pro 5G.
If design and cameras are what you’re looking for in your next smartphone, then the Vivo V21 5G is probably the best candidate within it’s price range. Beside boasting a sleek design and a versatile triple-cam setup, the Vivo V21 5G also comes along with a set of well-balanced specs that include a smooth AMOLED display, powerful chipset, 5G connectivity, as well as blazing-fast charging speed.